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Keeping Fish When Kayak Fishing

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How do you do it? Stringer, cooler, other?

 

I've tried stringer-slowed me down. Too much drag.

 

I've tried a floating basket. Again too much drag. Have to pick it up to get anywhere.

 

I've tried a Playmate cooler with ice. Works great. But fish are really noisy for a minute when you throw them onto ice. In a kayak, I'm sure it turns some fish off.

Another drawback is it takes the space I like to keep my milk crate with rods holders in.

 

I like to keep some fish to enhance the experience, but I haven't found a good method yet. Ideas?

 

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Enhance the experience? You mean eating them? It sounds like you're out of choices. Catch and Release !!

I was going to insert a smiley face, but it won't let me.

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If you're keeping for consumption, then a fish bag with some ice in it is usually the best.  The bag is placed on the bow of the kayak or inside the bow hatch.  You insert the fish and seal the bag.  The bag acts as a cooler and insulation/buffer against the noise.

 

If you mean for tournaments where they need to weigh the fis, it depends on if the tournament is a live weigh-in and release or is a kill tournament.  Most bass tournaments I know of are live weigh-ins with releases.  If this is the case, then a livewell is your best option.  Google/YouTube and look for cooler live well.  Basically it is the cost of the 25 qt cooler, plus the aerator and valve kits plus a battery.  Not too expensive and a cool of that size can hold 4-5 decent size fish.  Biggest issue is the overall weight, so unless you are using something like a Hobie Pro Angler, Jackson Big Tuna/Big Rig, etc you'll ifnd it's too much weight.

 

if you're talking about a livewell for smaller fish like crappie and such, then Goolge/YouTube for dog food bin live well.

 

If it is a tournament where it is your two best fish, then do what I do - buy a couple FishGrips and attach them to retractable or homemade lanyards (paracord works beautifully for this) with small carabiners to hook onto your kayak.  When you land the fish, simply clip the fishes lower jaw in the FishGrips and place it back in the water.  You'll find that the fish actually is fairly docile and will only thrash about once in a while.

 

Hope that helps.

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Enhance the experience? I don't know what that means. Are you eating them or just filling your freezer?

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I think the cooler is the best option. If you don't want to make noise when you put them in the cooler, use something to give them a pop on top of the head to kill them quickly before you put them on ice. It will keep them from flopping and from getting more stressed and more acid built up in them so they'll taste better. I'd probably do that anyways, better to get a quick thump on the head than freeze/suffocate I'd think. 

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I think the cooler is the best option. If you don't want to make noise when you put them in the cooler, use something to give them a pop on top of the head to kill them quickly before you put them on ice. It will keep them from flopping and from getting more stressed and more acid built up in them so they'll taste better. I'd probably do that anyways, better to get a quick thump on the head than freeze/suffocate I'd think. 

 

Curious... how can you tell where to whack him. And with what, a small hammer?

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When I keep fish to eat. I give one good hit on the head to kill them and then into my center hatch they go.

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Curious... how can you tell where to whack him. And with what, a small hammer?

Usually on top of the head, right between the eyes will do the trick. You could use a small hammer I suppose. For most fish a well aimed smack from a pair of pliers will do it. You'll know if you hit the right spot or not. 

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There are a lot of relatively simple DIY live-well applications that work well for kayaks. Look for one that uses an Igloo cooler. That might solve the issue for you.

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If you don't have room for ice cooler that a whack on the head would be your best option, just remember the quality of the meat starts to decline the longer it's off ice.

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I forgot I started this thread. Thanks for the replies. Enhancing the experience means eating some fish after a day of fishing...being part of the food chain. Several of the places I fish are in bad need of some harvest, but that's harder from the kayak. I hadn't considered a good whack on the head. I don't know why because I used to do it with stripers that were flopping in the boat, wrecking your tackle. I used to use one of those Adidas "shower shoes" flip flops with the heavy heel for just that purpose.

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I forgot I started this thread. Thanks for the replies. Enhancing the experience means eating some fish after a day of fishing...being part of the food chain. Several of the places I fish are in bad need of some harvest, but that's harder from the kayak. I hadn't considered a good whack on the head. I don't know why because I used to do it with stripers that were flopping in the boat, wrecking your tackle. I used to use one of those Adidas "shower shoes" flip flops with the heavy heel for just that purpose.

If you're just looking to keep fish on ice to eat, you can spend lots of money on this specific issue OR you can do this. ....

Go to your local Walmart and get two of their big blue insulated freezer bags. On your way out of the store, grab a large handful of umbrella wrappers.

Now when you go out to catch dinner, get your bag of ice and put half in 1 bag, place that bag inside the other bag, and pour the rest of the ice into the outer bag. Now you have a double insulated, softsided bag that will conform to most anywhere you need to stuff it on your yak. Place the umbrella bags in the outer bag, with just the openings hanging out and Velcro the bag shut.

Now when you catch Mister lucky fish, pull an umbrella bag out, put him in, and put him in the INSIDE bag. This will keep fish up to 27" cold all day in the summer heat in Florida. I place this right under my thighs at the end of my seat and the ice keeps me cool while I provide shade to keep the ice cool.

Boom.

Edit: the Walmart bags are $2. That's a total of 4 bucks. It will easily last a year. Mines going on two.

I don't keep bass to eat. .... but I do keep speckled trout, redfish, flounder etc while inshore fishing. This is how I've done it for about 3 years now and it works perfectly.

Do NOT use a stringer. I know I know, "I've done it for years. .." whatever.

The first time you reach down and pull up a snake trying to eat your fish, or a gator grabs it and you violently go for a swim, you will never do it again. If this hasn't happened to you. ....give it time. It will. I won't even get into having a stringer in saltwater. ......

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Or, you could just grab a package of frozen tilapia when your at the walmartz, and let the fish you catch go, lol.  Seems less expensive. 

 

I prefer to be at the top, but if you want to be part of the food chain, go swimming in shark infested waters!  (Kidding!)

 

A cooler is probably the easiest, though that can be a sail in wind.  Some type of fish bag is probably the best answer. As far as where to whack a fish on the head to kill them, you'll know when you get it right.  They stop moving.

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Or, you could just grab a package of frozen tilapia when your at the walmartz, and let the fish you catch go, lol.  Seems less expensive. 

 

I prefer to be at the top, but if you want to be part of the food chain, go swimming in shark infested waters!  (Kidding!)

 

A cooler is probably the easiest, though that can be a sail in wind.  Some type of fish bag is probably the best answer. As far as where to whack a fish on the head to kill them, you'll know when you get it right.  They stop moving.

No offense, but if you prefer a Mexican fish grown in sesspool conditions to pond bass be my guest. As I mentioned before, several places I fish are in need of harvest. Two owners even ask me to keep them. I already have the cooler method, but space is at a premium.

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If you're just looking to keep fish on ice to eat, you can spend lots of money on this specific issue OR you can do this. ....

Go to your local Walmart and get two of their big blue insulated freezer bags. On your way out of the store, grab a large handful of umbrella wrappers.

Now when you go out to catch dinner, get your bag of ice and put half in 1 bag, place that bag inside the other bag, and pour the rest of the ice into the outer bag. Now you have a double insulated, softsided bag that will conform to most anywhere you need to stuff it on your yak. Place the umbrella bags in the outer bag, with just the openings hanging out and Velcro the bag shut.

Now when you catch Mister lucky fish, pull an umbrella bag out, put him in, and put him in the INSIDE bag. This will keep fish up to 27" cold all day in the summer heat in Florida. I place this right under my thighs at the end of my seat and the ice keeps me cool while I provide shade to keep the ice cool.

Boom.

I had considered the Walmart/Sam's insulated bag. They do a good job of keeping things cold without ice. That may be the best solution yet. As long as the wife doesn't get mine mixed up with hers. I already stole her Playmate cooler for fish.

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^ I'm telling you man, if you double bag it. ....this is the answer. Its compact, malleable, and will hold ice all day this way.

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Curious... how can you tell where to whack him. And with what, a small hammer?

I used to use the handle of my hunting knife. To get them to lay still while cleaning. Just grip the back of the blade and wack um rite between the eyes. Across the top of the head.

If it's bass you'll have to hit them hard! There skulls are thick. Other fish it doesnt take as much.

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